Before I offer my endorsement of the $130-million new-arena plan for the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, let me step up to the microphone of full disclosure.
I am a registered Libertarian. Yet, I don’t smoke pot and I don’t hate government. In fact, I kind of like it — government, not pot. Even big government, which I think we need in order to handle, well, big issues. There are quite a few of those.
One of my stepsons says my positions on government and pot make me less of a Libertarian and more of a LINO — Libertarian in Name Only.
Maybe so. And I’m OK with that, if it means I don’t really conform to many of the hard-line principles of my party of registration. It wouldn’t be the first time.
I used to be a RINO — Republican In Name Only. And before that, I was a DINO — Democratic In Name only. I don’t fit with the major parties any better than I fit with Libertarians. But I do think things are more relaxed with the Libertarians. I’ll leave it up to you to decide why that is.
I was registered independent for a while but felt, well, unattached. So I move around a bit, politically. I don’t move around much on certain issues, however, including my belief that Rapid City needs a newer, bigger arena for our civic center complex, and for our future.
Well, maybe that’s not so much “our” future as it is “their” future or “your” future, depending on how old you are. At 66, I’m old enough that when I peer through the years ahead to make a long-range plan, I preface things with: “Presuming I’m still ambulatory and alert, I …”
Plus, I’m not a big, big-concert guy, so I don’t fret about attracting big names to Rapid City. I think the last big concert I attended was The James Gang at The Barn at SDSU in 1971. Wait, no, it was Chicago at Frost Arena in 1975. Hold on, I saw Crosby, Stills and Nash in St. Paul in 1978.
After that, things get hazy, and not in a Libertarian way. But somewhere in there I missed a chance to see Don McLean in his prime. It turned out OK, though, because by the time you read this I will have seen the American Pie man, admittedly somewhat past his prime, Saturday night at the Deadwood Mountain Grand.
We weren’t going to go, but then they dropped the ticket price from $69 to $29. That’s the price range I like. And the little theater in the Grand is about as big as I want. Add an early bird dinner special and you’re in AARP heaven.
So, I’m not the target customer for the new, larger, better-equipped arena. But I am the target customer for projects that help our community grow and prosper, and make life better for our kids and grandkids.
And I think this is one of those.
I admit, I thought the same about the $180-million expansion plan rejected by city voters in 2015. I voted for it, with reservations about the cost. Looking back, I’m glad it failed.
This plan is smaller, cheaper, better, with all the essentials and none of the excesses of the other plan. We’ve even socked away about $25 million for a down payment, reducing interest and the drain on other city funding.
So, yeah, I like the plan. And if it gets approved and built, I might even attend a big concert there — presuming, of course, that I’m still ambulatory and alert.